The typewriter that informed the Civil War | Culture | EUROtoday

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“The bosses formed us and said: the war is over.” It was March 20, 1939, Francisco Buj famous in his memoirs. The Army of Extremadura started a gradual and staggered descent to the Guadiana valley to give up to the nationwide troops. His brigade, the 109th, stationed for the reason that summer season in Talarrubias (Badajoz), had to take action per week later, at a ford within the river referred to as “la barca.” Very dense smoke lined the city sq.. The drained faces of the few officers in uniform had been illuminated by the bonfires. They needed to burn and render ineffective all the things, together with their two model new Mercedes Prima typewriters. Before including the second to the fireplace, they found {that a} boy was watching. They knew him, his household had handled them nicely, in order that they determined to present her to him. “Take it, for yourself, so that you can use it.” That boy, Octavio Gonzálvez Ruiz, simply turned 100 years outdated. He smiles and proudly exhibits off his machine, whereas he recites to his daughter Inmaculada the scene that she has carried intact in her head all these years.

“The night before, the troops in the Civil Guard Barracks loaded their luggage and escaped urgently. That night and the following nights we couldn't sleep.” Gonzálvez kept the machine, at his house they never said anything. He began studying, finished high school and law school many years later. In 1975 he used it to write his own memoirs. His daughter gave them to Fernando Barrero Arzac, who has spent decades documenting the history of all these families that he feels are his own. Andrés, the commissioner of Brigade 109, was his grandfather. He has now received the machine with the same task of keeping alive the memory of those defeated soldiers who, in the most difficult moment of their lives, bet on Gonzálvez's innocence.

The end of the war remains an open question. The denunciations and accusations crossed during decades of exile reduced to pieces everything that happened afterwards. The intrahistory of that army, of hundreds of thousands of men who remained to face a more than uncertain future, is still unknown. The Republicans initiated the so-called Plan P, designed by Vicente Rojo, to attack and break the Francoist rearguard in two, but it was too late. Queipo de Llano, inactive since the beginning of the war, was deployed before the Almadén mines could be disabled, definitively cutting the border with Portugal and pocketing a huge enemy army intact. Among them were the members of the 109th battalion who delivered the machine to Gonzálvez before surrendering.

The Mercedes Prima of Brigade 106.
The Mercedes Prima of Brigade 106.Gutmaro Gomez Bravo

The members of the 109th brigade had spent almost the entire war together. On November 7, 1937, they were photographed at their command post. On the back of the photo, Sergeant Pedro Pérez Cano, standing with his tunic buttoned, wrote: “The war is in full swing. Here with my companions, in Malpartida de la Serena.” His son Luis, who retains it as his most treasured asset, has enlarged the negatives. The background picture exhibits the quadrant of a month-to-month weapons journal. They had been at their finest, organizationally and morally. He smiled, nothing made that sergeant from Cartagena suppose that he would find yourself in a focus camp in Toledo. After a number of years of jail, he returned, like a lot of his companions, to the place the place he had spent the warfare. They had solid a particular bond with the individuals of the world. A union that remained alive lengthy after, as Gonzálvez explains in his memoirs of Siberia in Extremadura.

In the image, Captain Amador Álvarez looks at the photographer while holding the phone. The war brought him on a train from far away, but he would live there until his death. Before him he had to go through the Castuera field and the Brunete penal detachment, “redeeming punishment.” Shortly before leaving, in 1944, he was able to send this photo among the censored correspondence. The prisoner's suit barely projected his shadow on the desolate landscape of post-war Spain. The soldier who types the typewriter is Francisco Buj Pastor, the company's clerk. He had arrived with other Aragonese in June 1937 and, on his first night on duty, he was greeted with a hail of shrapnel.

Octavio González Ruiz in 1938 and in 2024.
Octavio González Ruiz in 1938 and in 2024.Fernando Barrero Arzac

His son Paco guards a treasure, Memories of the Civil War (unpublished, 1980, Terrassa). In them she wanted his father to organize all his memories, starting at the end. They left their weapons before crossing the river and surrendered in columns. After a search in which they said goodbye to their few belongings, they were taken to a place they called the farmhouse or Casa de Zaldívar. He spent his captivity with his friend Pepe García, from Puerto de Sagunto, waiting for reports from his town that never came. Finally, thanks to the mayor's daughter, “girlfriend of a soldier from Caspe”, they got him to personally endorse them.

Franco's documentation offers a complete overview of the entire area. In that sector, the Southern Army took 3,000 prisoners in a single day. They took them on foot to the Casa de Zaldívar farmhouse, 15 kilometers from Puebla de Alcocer. A month later they were already guarding nearly 5,000 prisoners. The order arrived. On April 26 they were transferred to the Castuera concentration camp. Only a small group remained that had to be taken to another farmhouse, that of the Boticaria, “in fulfillment of missions that do not allow delay.” There were, along with those waiting there, about two hundred men from different brigades, classified and selected in advance. It was no use burning the documentation. On May 15, the sun was shining brightly when they finished digging their own grave. Their bodies lay in the olive grove, mixed with those of several residents of the area, until the spring of 1978. It was the first exhumation of the Civil War in Extremadura. The Mercedes Prima on 109 sounded again.

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